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The Self Coaching Model by Brooke Castillo

The Self Coaching Model by Brooke Castillo

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Hi, my name is Simone. Son, brother, husband, uncle, nephew, electronic engineer, meditation practitioner, athlete, traveler, reader, LEGO® lover, and much more. I am 28 years old and I am currently living in Villach (Austria) with my wife. I was born and raised in Lido di Camaiore (Italy) but for the past eight years I have been living and working in other countries. I see each day as an opportunity to learn something new. I am particularly interested in everything related to mind, body, self-discovery, meditation, and relationships with other people and the world. Nice to meet you and welcome to my blog!

Here is Simone’s blog.

Are you looking for a systematic approach to tackle and solve any problem you face in your life? Then the Self Coaching Model by Brooke Castillo is what you need!

Brooke Castillo is the Founder and CEO of The Life Coach School, an online school that offers two programs, one for students who want to learn how to coach themselves and another one for those who aspire to become certified life coaches.

Currently, I am enjoying the free resources that Brooke and her team make available on The Life School site and social channels. In particular, I listen to her podcast very often on my way to work. But I do not exclude that in the future I will apply for one of the premium curricula. Indeed, I really like the coaching style of Brooke. She is able to analyze complex problems, breaking them down into tiny pieces. When you do that, even the most challenging situations become simpler and addressable.

At the foundation of Brooke’s philosophy and coaching is what she calls the Self Coaching Model or, more simply, the Model. I find the Model simply brilliant and I have already tried to apply it to my life more than once, with very positive results.

In this blog post I explain the main concepts of the Model and how it can serve you to achieve the results you wish. With the right tools and correct understanding of how your mind works, you can face any challenge in your life!

WHAT IS THE MODEL ABOUT?

The Model of Brooke Castillo is essentially modeling how given a set of circumstances you get certain results. By understanding and using the Model, you can solve any problem you face in your life.

When you don’t achieve the results you want, you may blame it on external circumstances. Thoughts race in your mind and instead of helping you solve your problems they distract and destroy you. But if you understand what brings you from circumstances to results, then you know what are the knobs you can turn to achieve better results in the future and not commit the same mistakes again and again.

Summarized in one sentence, the Model teaches that your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions, and your actions create your results. Graphically, this can be explained by the following chain of events:

CIRCUMSTANCES → THOUGHTS → FEELINGS → ACTIONS → RESULTS

Let’s now analyze each element of the Model in details.

1. CIRCUMSTANCES

Circumstances include three categories of events:

  • facts that everyone agrees on;
  • your own past;
  • other people’s actions.

There is no subjective judgment involved, they are simply things that are known and/or proved to be true: objective data that can be shown in a court of law.

Circumstances are neither good nor bad, they are neutral. They become good or bad only after your judgement, depending on the thoughts you have about them. This is already what most people fail to recognize and understand (see Maybe and The Stoic Happiness Triangle to find out more about this topic).

2. THOUGHTS

We understood what a circumstance is. The next step is to understand what thoughts are. Thoughts are simply sentences in your head. They are not circumstances because they are subjective and they attach descriptive words or opinions to neutral circumstances.

Any time you add a qualifier to a fact that happened to you or others, that’s a thought.

Nothing that happen to you is amazing or horrible per se. It’s you who decides to have an amazing or an horrible thought about it, and it’s that thought that makes the circumstance either one way or another.

Let’s consider one extreme example: death. Death is not terrible by itself, your thoughts about a particular person leaving the world make it that way. Think about your thoughts in front of the death of a stranger, of a friend or close relative, of someone who was extremely old and sick, of someone who committed many atrocities toward other people… do you have the same thoughts (and feelings, and reactions) in all of these cases?

Given the same circumstances, different people may have different thoughts.

Now, what’s interesting is that most of the thoughts a person has during a day arise and then go away unintentionally and unsupervised. The average person thinks about 60000 thoughts during a day, and most of these thoughts repeat continuously from one day to the next one.

That is why it is extremely important to train awareness (see How I started meditating with Headspace and The mindful traffic light technique) and actively choose which are the thoughts that occupy your thinking time. You should allow only constructive thoughts to enter your mind and avoid descending into a spiral of self-destructive thoughts (see The two pages lists).

If you do not train your mind to generate productive thoughts, you keep repeating the mistakes you made in your past and your future will be no different.

In short, awareness is the first step to have better thoughts that create better feelings that lead to better actions that produce better results.

3. FEELINGS

Feelings are vibrations in your body and are a product of your thoughts. They are not your thoughts. It is extremely important to understand this and to train yourself to detect the differences.

Indeed, once you understand that your thoughts produce your feelings, you understand that by having different thoughts you can feel better, even if the external circumstances do not change. You can chose how to feel, by simply changing your thoughts.

Instead of trying to change others, you start changing yourself. And when you change yourself, everything else also changes. By understanding this, you will feel more powerful, because you know that ultimately how you feel in any moment just depends on you. You do not give your power away. Other people or external circumstances cannot dictate your feelings. You are the captain of the boat.

Now, this does not mean that you must have only positive thoughts and resist your negative emotions. It is perfectly fine to feel bad when something you consider bad happens to you, that’s part of the human experience. But it is important to notice and acknowledge your emotions.

To acknowledge your feelings for what they are (vibrations in your body), it is useful to label them with one word. For instance, you can say that you feel excited, happy, sad, depressed, motivated, apathic, angry and so on. But do not identify with your feelings, as feelings come and go. And feelings change, once you start changing your thoughts.

4. ACTIONS

We have analyzed circumstances, thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings happen within you. So how can they influence your life and the lives of those around you? That’s through your actions, which are a product of your feelings. Depending on how you feel, you take (or don’t take) certain actions.

Brooke Castillo provides an interesting classification of actions. They are:

  • What you do (actions);
  • What you do not do (inactions);
  • What you react to (reactions).

It makes totally sense. Think about it: when you feel motivated, excited or energized you take action, when you feel depressed, sad or unmotivated you wait in lethargy (inaction) and finally when you feel angry you simply react.

5. RESULTS

Finally, results are the consequences or outcomes of your actions, inactions, or reactions. Ultimately, you reap what you sow. On the long run, those who work hard always achieve their goals and the Universe always gives you back what you gave to it.

The problem is that many people want to achieve their goals in their outer life without really understanding that everything starts from their inner life and their mindset.

People look for quick fixes to change their actions and get the expected results. But until you do not acknowledge and change the feelings and thoughts behind those actions, you will never really change your life. Instead of treating the root cause of the problem you are simply treating the symptoms.

This is what happens for instance to all those people who want to lose weight (result: I want to lose weight), commit to a rigorous diet (action: I eat less) and initially succeed, but after few months or years stop their diet and gain back the same kilos or even more. They changed their actions without understanding their feelings (how do I feel when I am overeating?) and thoughts (what thoughts made me feel that way?).

SUMMARY

The Model defines five key elements to understand yourself and change your life for the better:

CIRCUMSTANCES → THOUGHTS → FEELINGS → ACTIONS → RESULTS

A circumstance is a neutral fact, a thought is a sentence in your head about a circumstance, a feeling is a vibration in your body caused by a thought, an action is what your feelings cause you to do, the result is the consequence of your action.

By changing your thoughts, you can change your results.

HOMEWORK

The Self Coaching Model provides a framework to put into practice what we have just learned. It consists in the following three steps:

  1. write “C, T, F, A, R” (Circumstances, Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, Results);
  2. fill in one line (the one you want to solve for);
  3. fill the remaining lines sequentially.

Let’s have a look at two examples to understand better how it works.

FIRST EXAMPLE

Step 1 & 2, starting from C (Circumstances):

  • C: My son who lives abroad never calls me;
  • T:
  • F:
  • A:
  • R:

Step 3:

  • C: My son who lives abroad never calls me;
  • T: He does not care about me as much as I care about him;
  • F: I feel frustrated and sad about this;
  • A: When I call him I tell him that he does not care about me, I complain that he can never find time to talk to me;
  • R: The conversation is not enjoyable and my son keeps not calling me.

Let’s see how you can change your results by changing your thoughts.

  • C: My son who lives abroad never calls me;
  • T: He does not call me because he is very busy with work, he has many friends and lots of different interests that fill his free time;
  • F: I feel happy for him, because I know that he is enjoying his life;
  • A: When I call him I am curious about his life and ask him about how the work, sport, relationships go;
  • R: The conversation is enjoyable and my son is looking forward to the next call together.

SECOND EXAMPLE

Step 1 & 2, this time let’s start from R (Results):

  • C:
  • T:
  • F:
  • A:
  • R: I am not getting promoted at work for the third year in a row.

Step 3:

  • C: My boss is very demanding and keeps asking more from me;
  • T: My boss is too demanding and does not appreciate what I do, I will never make him happy;
  • F: I feel unsecure and not motivated in my daily job;
  • A: Again, I did not reach my targets at the end of the year;
  • R: I am not getting promoted at work for the third year in a row.

Let’s see how you can change your results by changing your thoughts.

  • C: My boss is very demanding and keeps asking more from me;
  • T: My boss believes in me and see potential in me, he knows I can grow fast;
  • F: I feel secure and motivated in my daily job, I constantly strive for my best;
  • A: I reach my targets and exceed the expectations at the end of the year;
  • R: I get promoted after two year of excellent performance.

Pretty powerful, isn’t it?

You can use this technique for any problem you have. Understand the thoughts that ultimately cause your actions that lead to your results and start changing them incrementally from negative to neutral to positive in a way that they can serve you.

Most of the time, when you analyze the reality systematically and see it for what it really is, you realize that many problems are actually no problems.

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